In the week-long Islay Festival of Music and Malt, the nine distilleries on Islay take turns to open their doors, throw a party, and release a special bottling. Bruichladdich’s day, the Sunday, seems to grow in popularity and sophistication every year. Indeed, on Sunday May 26th, our previous years’ records were broken: most people attending, fastest sellout of the festival bottle, most money raised in a bottle auction for charity, highest viewing figures for the live broadcast of Adam Hannett’s masterclass, with which the day began.
A feature of the large crowd at Bruichladdich’s Festival is not so much the number of tourists, but rather the number of locals. Craig and Petra Archibald were busy serving farmed ‘Islay Oysters’ from Craigens (800 had gone by 14:30); they have raised malting barley for us on the same farm since 2013. Ian McKerrell was here sharing his phone photos of one of last year’s barley fields being blighted by swans, to be precise 157 swans, practically a plague! Donald Fletcher, a familiar face in the farming community but relatively new barley supplier for us, was here with daughter, Jess, who worked for us while she was a student. Those known by the name of their place, Neil ‘Kilchiaran’, Donald ‘Blackrock’, and James Brown of Octomore Farm were also celebrating with us in customary Islay style.